Another cute book of animal facts—but far from a must-have.

JUNGLE ANIMALS

From the Touch and Explore series

This board book is a tactile, factoid-filled visit with various jungle animals.

Mazas’ animal facts are paired with Roy’s clean and inviting illustrations. Some featured animals, such as the iguana, are given full two-page layouts with multiple illustrations and an up-close image while other pages include multiple animals and facts shared together. There is no apparent pattern to how the animals are featured or why some receive a more in-depth treatment. Despite this, young readers will get a kick out of the information included, especially the note about sloth toilet habits. Some of the up-close images incorporate both an inset texture to feel and labeled body parts. These are the most interesting illustrations in the book even though the tactile components don’t add much informational value. The boa constrictor works well with its touchable, bumpy scales. Overall, the book suffers from a lack of clear direction: Is it an organized, up-close look at jungle animals? A picture dictionary of assorted animals, as the last two pages featuring seven animals and a few textures suggest? A lift-the-flap book (there’s only one)? The muddiness means an unclear readership. The touch-and-feel aspect points to younger readers, but the content hits a little older. Overall, the book has high appeal for animal lovers who get a kick out of related details.

Another cute book of animal facts—but far from a must-have. (Board book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-2-40801-284-7

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Twirl/Chronicle

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Caregivers eager to expose their children to fine art have better choices than this.

ABCS OF ART

From “Apple” to “Zebra,” an alphabet of images drawn from museum paintings.

In an exhibition that recalls similar, if less parochial, ABCs from the Metropolitan Museum of Art (My First ABC, 2009) and several other institutions, Hahn presents a Eurocentric selection of paintings or details to illustrate for each letter a common item or animal—all printed with reasonable clarity and captioned with identifying names, titles, and dates. She then proceeds to saddle each with an inane question (“What sounds do you think this cat is making?” “Where can you find ice?”) and a clumsily written couplet that unnecessarily repeats the artist’s name: “Flowers are plants that blossom and bloom. / Frédéric Bazille painted them filling up this room!” She also sometimes contradicts the visuals, claiming that the horses in a Franz Marc painting entitled “Two Horses, 1912” are ponies, apparently to populate the P page. Moreover, her “X” is an actual X-ray of a Jean-Honoré Fragonard, showing that the artist repainted his subject’s face…interesting but not quite in keeping with the familiar subjects chosen for the other letters.

Caregivers eager to expose their children to fine art have better choices than this. (Informational picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5107-4938-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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A timely message in the wrong format.

TOGETHER

This book delivers a message on the power of collective action.

As the book opens, a child looks at a lone star shining in the sky: “One star shines as distant light.” After the turn of the page, the child now sees what looks like the Milky Way: “And when stars shine together, they make our galaxy.” The book goes on to give a number of similar examples to reinforce the message of the power that comes from working together, ending with: “One of us can speak up for justice / And when we speak up together we create a world of possibility.” In the current atmosphere of strife and discord that divides our country, this is certainly a welcome message. Perhaps, though, the board-book set is not the right audience. As a picture book aimed at a slightly older group with an information page at the end explaining some of the illustrations, it might work well. As it is, however, some of the visual references will merely puzzle a toddler—and some adults. For example, a group of angry-looking people raising their fists and singing together may not look like “harmony” to a toddler—unless they know about the New Zealand haka. There is an unexplained frog motif that runs through the book that may also mystify readers. Nagara’s brilliant illustrations portray people of many ethnic backgrounds.

A timely message in the wrong format. (Board book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64421-084-0

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Triangle Square Books for Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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